In the previous article of this series, we studied in the light of Gospel, events mentioned in Exodus 18. Now we move to the next chapters of Exodus. Chapter 19 to 23 deals with Ten Commandments and other laws which God spoke from Mount Sinai. Let us meditate what Gospel centric lessons we can draw from Ten Commandments and other laws. Careful observation shows that the laws of Moses including the Ten Commandments were the terms and conditions of a contract that was being signed between God and Israelites. God promised Israelites that he would make them the kingdom of Priests and his possession only if they obey his terms and laws. Observe closely the order of events recorded from Exodus 19 to 24;
- First, the redeemed people reach the foot of Sinai (Exo 19:1).
- Then God promises them the blessing of the priesthood (Exo 19:6).
- Then God spoke to them Ten Commandments and few other laws from Sinai (Exo 20-23) as a prerequisite to granting them the promise of being God’s priesthood (Exo 19:5)
- Israelites agree to the terms and conditions and laws of God by saying, “All that God has said we will do it (Exo 24:3).”
- Then Moses began the legal process. He records what God spoke (Exo 24:4). He reads it before people and seals it with the blood of a sacrificed animal (Exo 24:5-7).
So we observe that a promise is made by God in Exo 19. Then certain conditions are set by God (Exodus 20-23). And then Moses as mediator ratifies this deal with blood and sacrifice. The contract is that God would make the kingdom of priests, which means they will have access to God. But the condition that was set was that they must obey the laws which God spoke from Sinai. This is what we read in Exodus 19 to 24. This is known as the Old Covenant.
In the New Testament, Jesus made another covenant with his followers. Jesus said,
“This cup is New Covenant in my blood, which is poured for you”Luke 22:20
Apostle Paul compares the two covenants. Paul writes that the covenant received at Mount Sinai is comparable to bondwoman Hagar (Galatians 4:21-31). Laws of Moses, in the old covenant, were bindings of contract. The word bondwoman or bondage signifies bindings or conditions laid upon. But in the new covenant, Paul says, the promise is like that to a free woman Sarah and her child. There are no bindings. To Isaac, the promise belongs due to inheritance (Gal 4:28, 31, 7). Therefore Peter writes, we have become the kingdom of priests unto God (I Pet 2:9). So while at Sinai conditions were laid to make Israelites as God’s possession and the Kingdom of Priest, we the New Covenant partners get the promise to be priests without condition. The priest is one who has access to God. A priest can eat of the bread of Lord’s temple. Similarly, Jesus while making New Covenant says,
“ye shall dine with me in the Kingdom of God or in other words, we could eat together with God and have access to God (Luke 22:30, 22 paraphrased).” Then the writer of Hebrew says that while in the first covenant, access to Mount Sinai (God’s fellowship) was restricted, in such a way that even if a beast tried to approach Sinai, then death was certain for him (Heb 12:20, 2 Cor 3:7), the New Covenant has given access to God to us that we are come unto Zion (New Sinai), to the city of God.
So are we saying that we the New Testament people should not obey the Ten Commandments or moral aspects of God? Nah! We are saying that it is not binding on us to achieve God’s promise. We have achieved God’s promise and now we obey God not out of compulsion but out of love. In New Covenant, we have access to the throne of God, and we are a kingdom of priests because of the blood of Jesus. So the tithes and other laws do not bring a curse on us as fraud monks of TPM teach us, by pointing to us the conditions of laws of Moses as God’s compulsory commandment upon all his worshippers.
God’s Dealings Before and After Mt Sinai
God promised Abraham, that his seeds would possess the land (Gen 15:18-21). When God made this covenant with Abraham, there was no stipulation on Abraham to fulfil or his descendants to fulfil for God to bring the promise to fruition. But when the covenant at Sinai was made, Israel was asked to “keep” certain conditions, if they were to enjoy the conditional blessings attached to it (Exo 19:5, 24:7). Therefore it is worth noting how God dealt with Israel in time before and after this deal was signed by blood.
Observe that when God redeemed Israel from Egypt, we read “God heard their groaning, and remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob (Exo 2:24; 6:3).” So God forgave all their shortcomings and redeemed them from bondage into which they had fallen by their birth. So even if they did murmuring on seeing the army of Pharaoh behind them at the red sea, God overlooked their doubt and fear they cast on his name. Then when the water was bitter they made a complaint, but God winked at it also. Then again they grumbled when they had no food (Exo 16:2-3) and no water (Exo 17:3), but God did not punish them. However when the covenant was signed after they had agreed to its terms and conditions by saying, “All that God says we will do (Exo 19:8, 24:3: 24:7),” then God’s dealing with them changed. First, we read that they danced in front of the golden calf when the terms of condition had mentioned that thou shall have no other gods before me. So we read that this time God did not wink at their mistake. We read God smote them (Exo 32:35). Then God killed Nadab and Abihu and sent fire when Dathan Korah and Abiram rebelled and Israelites murmured. We also know that God sent fiery serpents into the wilderness. When Miriam, the sister of Moses made a complaint, then she was made leprous. So it is very clear, that God was showcasing humanity that attempts to get justification by terms and conditions of the law will lead them to doom.
It must not be assumed what is not spoken. The Abrahamic covenant was related to the inheritance of the land but the Sinaitic covenant was about blessings in the Land. Therefore the effects of the Sinaitic covenant is visible in the form of punishment for the same things they were let off earlier.
We are not saying that in the New Testament we can murmur and do all wrong things which Israelites did in the wilderness because are not under Old Contract of Sinai. What we are saying is that unlike the Sinai covenant, God is merciful in New Covenant. However this in no way is a license to tempt God. Listen to what Apostle Paul has to say;
1 Corinthians 10
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now, these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted and were destroyed of serpents.
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
So here is a comparison we can make for people under New Covenant people under Old Covenant;
|The Church in the Wilderness||The Church of the New Testament|
|Red Sea Experience||Water Baptism|
|Did eat Spiritual Meat||Communion (spiritual meat); become part of body of Christ (reconciliation with God)|
|Everyone Drank from the Rock||Eternal Life by Holy Spirit flowing from within us, by making us as a well of living waters (see previous article in this series).|
|They lusted, murmured, tempted, fornicated, became idolatrous;||We should not lust from things of world, not become idolaters, murmur or fornicate or tempt Lord.|
|God was not Pleased with them||We should be careful|